Chopped Liver - A Community for Live Organ Donors and Recipients

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Reality bites TV viewers

When I first heard about "The Big Donor Show," an elaborate reality TV show hoax staged in early June on TV in the Netherlands, I was as abhorred as the most squeamish of Dutch viewers. In the one-night broadcast, three contestants in need of a kidney transplant were competing to "win" the kidney of a terminally ill woman. At the last minute, though, as viewers sat on the edge of their seats in horror over who would live and die, the host revealed that the show was a hoax, that the would-be donor was a perfectly healthy actress, that all the actors were willingly in on it, and that the point of the trick was to raise awareness for the need to change Dutch organ donation laws and promote organ donation choices.

Grotesque in the extreme.

But then for a while, my Mom changed my mind. When I brought it up this weekend, she questioned whether perhaps it was worth it -- macabre as it was -- because the Netherlands, it turns out, has a very stupid law in place. To be a live donor, you must be a relative or close friend. No anonymous strangers allowed. (Whaddaya think of that, Mike?) And they have the same shortage challenges we face here, and the world faces overall. Okay, I conceded she has a point.

Now, though, I'm back to critical. It's all just too ugly for me I guess. After a very quick Google search, I found this posting by a professional British blog bloke, Mal Fletcher (killer smile, that one) that reflects my own opinion quite well.


  • I'm still a little torn on this. I mean, they did create a lot of awareness, both domestically and abroad. That counts for something. Still, I hear ya.

    By Blogger mindy, at 8:30 AM  

  • I agree, it's a tough one. We actually had some pretty interesting feedback from folks down here on the issue:

    Donate Life Illinois - Campaign Manager

    By Blogger -Scott (Campaign Manager), at 10:52 AM  

  • I get the British guy's point about a slippery slope. And we reject the Machiavellian "ends justify the means." So, okay. (By the by, Mach. didn't really espouse that, but it's too late to change the world's conception. Poor guy.)

    Thanks for bolding my name. . .

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:20 PM  

  • Like a bunch of people I've been a bit conflicted about this. I'm almost always in favour of raising awareness for donation, but I also don't really like when people toy around with such serious issues. As for not allowing strangers to donate! Well, that's a whole other issue completely. As you know I am fully in favour of that haha...

    By Anonymous Mike B., at 8:40 PM  

  • I thought it was brilliant. They brought up awareness that no one has done lately. But still, in the USA we have 96,846 people waiting for an organ. SEVENTEEN of those people will die every day not getting one. I think those in hollywood say it best, "any press is good press".

    By Blogger causaleffect, at 8:42 PM  

  • I think Mac needs a face donation....Yikes!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:13 AM  

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